2nd Patient Who Tested Positive For Ebola Is A 26-Year-Old Nurse | KERA News

2nd Patient Who Tested Positive For Ebola Is A 26-Year-Old Nurse

KERA has confirmed that the nurse who’s tested positive for Ebola is Nina Pham, a 26-year-old graduate of Texas Christian University who also attended Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth.

Two family friends confirmed her name with KERA, as did her high school. 

Officials say Pham wore protective gear as she cared for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after he was diagnosed with Ebola and put in isolation. He died last week.

The graduate of Texas Christian University's nursing school was monitoring her own temperature and went to the hospital Friday night as soon as she found out she was running a low fever. She's now in isolation and in stable condition. It's the first known case of Ebola being transmitted within the U.S.

2:52 p.m.: Federal health authorities are telling the nation's hospitals to "think Ebola"

Federal health authorities are telling the nation's hospitals to "think Ebola."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden is urging hospitals across the country to watch for patients with fever or symptoms of Ebola who have traveled from the three Ebola-stricken African nations in the past 21 days.

He spoke Monday after a health care worker in Dallas became the first person to catch the disease within the United States. She had treated a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died at the hospital after bringing the disease from Liberia.

The CDC is now monitoring all hospital workers who treated Duncan. Frieden says he wouldn't be surprised if another hospital worker who cared for that patient when he was very sick becomes ill. Ebola patients become more contagious as the disease progresses.

The health care worker who contracted Ebola remains in stable condition, federal officials said Monday.

“I feel awful that the health care worker became infected in the care of the Ebola patient,” Frieden said at a press conference.

Hospitals across the country have to be on alert, he said.

“We have to rethink the way we treat Ebola infection control,” he said. “Even a single infection is unacceptable.”

The health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, identified as a nurse by many media outlets, became the first person to catch Ebola within the United States. She had treated a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died at Presbyterian after bringing the disease from Liberia.

Watch Monday morning's CDC press conference from PBS

2:42 p.m.: Officials will look after health care worker's dog

Some are wondering what's happening with the infected health care worker's dog. It was mentioned during Monday morning's CDC press conference.

“We want to make sure we … find a location where we can care for the dog and have proper monitoring for the dog,” said Dr. David Lakey, the Texas health commissioner.

On Sunday, city officials reported the dog was scared, but was being given food and water.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA Today that there were no plans to euthanize the dog.

"The dog's very important to the patient and we want it to be safe," Rawlings told USA Today.

Bloomberg reports that dogs are able to carry the virus -- and that researchers say canine infection "must be considered as a potential risk factor for human infection and virus spread."

"We just felt the dog is very important to this hero of a health-care giver and we’re going to do anything we can to help,” Rawlings told Bloomberg. The dog will be moved from the house to a safe location and be cared for by the city, he said. “I believe the pet hasn’t caught anything.”

From The Associated Press: Texas officials say they're trying to find an appropriate place to monitor a dog that belongs to a nurse diagnosed with Ebola.

The nurse's Dallas apartment is being thoroughly cleaned after tests over the weekend confirmed she is infected. A Dallas spokeswoman says the city will make sure the dog is cared for.

There was an uproar in Spain after Madrid authorities euthanized a dog named Excalibur that belonged to a nursing assistant sickened by the virus. She remains hospitalized. Authorities were concerned the dog might be harboring the virus. 

1:48 p.m. New Ebola screening at JFK airport flagged 91 travelers

NPR reports: "Newly instituted screening procedures at New York's JFK International airport identified 91 arriving passengers as having a higher risk of being infected with Ebola based on their recent travel, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said Monday. None of the airline passengers had a fever, Frieden said, noting that of five people who were sent for further evaluation, none were determined to have Ebola. ...

"Frieden said the airport screenings at JFK are part of the agency's plan to stop the disease; he said that screenings will be instituted at four other airports – in Atlanta; Chicago; Newark, N.J.; and Dulles, Va. — by Thursday."

1:24 p.m.: CDC chief says: "The enemy here is a virus. ... It's not a hospital. It's a virus."

Texas Health Presbyterian released a statement to the media that highlights some of CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden's remarks at this morning's CDC press conference: 

Frieden told reporters: "I want to clarify something I said yesterday. I spoke about a 'breach in protocol' and that's what we speak about in public health when we're talking about what needs to happen and our focus is to say, would this protocol have prevented the infection? And we believe it would have. But some interpreted that as finding fault with the hospital or the health care worker. And I'm sorry if that was the impression given. That was certainly not my intention.

"People on the front lines are really protecting all of us. People on the front lines are fighting Ebola. The enemy here is a virus. Ebola. It's not a person. It's not a country. It's not a place. It's not a hospital. It's a virus. It's a virus that's tough to fight. But together, I'm confident that we will stop it. What we need to do is all take responsibility for improving the safety of those on the front lines.

"I feel awful that a health care worker became infected in the care of an Ebola patient. She was there trying to help the first patient survive and now she has become infected. All of us have to work together to do whatever is possible to reduce the risk that any other health care worker becomes infected."

1:15 p.m.: In health care worker's neighborhood, residents remain calm 

KERA’s Lauren Silverman visited the M streets neighborhood where the health care worker lives and filed this report:

It was business as usual Monday morning in the East Dallas neighborhood where the first patient to get Ebola lives.

Garbage trucks picked up trash and large oak branches knocked down by Sunday night’s storm. People walked their dogs, and pushed strollers past brick houses decorated with Halloween spider webs.

Neighbor Tommy Hicks says the Ebola situation isn’t scary.

“Not scary at all really,” he said. “We’re not in any way frightened by the disease. It’s incredibly hard to get, and I feel completely safe in our neighborhood.”

That’s partly because the city of Dallas responded fast to the news of a second infection.

“I don’t think they knew what they were dealing with the first time around,” Hicks said. “This particular incident -- I can’t imagine them doing it any better than they have.”

Within an hour of finding out a neighbor had Ebola on Sunday morning, Hicks was shaking hands with the Dallas mayor, Mike Rawlings, with his wife and baby in the front lawn. The city had already blanketed doorsteps with information packets about Ebola and made calls to houses within a four block radius of the contaminated apartment.

At the nearby Café Brazil general manager Joshua Lloyd helped clear plates of migas and eggs. He said business hadn’t slowed down since the news.

“We got really busy in here on Sunday,” he said.

Lloyd also lives in the neighborhood and says he’s not worried.

“I know they were knocking on neighbors’ doors, making them aware of the situation so that no one was freaking out, and I think they did it properly,” he said.  

Read more here.

11:20 a.m. Nurses union calls for hospitals to boost Ebola protection for health care workers

The largest U.S. nurses organization is calling on hospitals to step up the way they protect their workers as they treat Ebola patients.

National Nurses United is calling for hospitals to have in place the “highest standard of optimal protections.” That includes Hazmat suits and hands-on training to protect nurses and other hospital personnel. 

“There is no standard short of optimal in protective equipment and hands-on-training that is acceptable,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, in a statement.

“Nurses and other frontline hospital personnel must have the highest level of protective equipment, such as the Hazmat suits Emery University or the CDC themselves use while transporting patients and hands on training and drills for all RNs and other hospital personnel. That includes the practice putting on and taking off the optimal equipment.”

Original post: Following Ebola infection, Health officials monitoring Presbyterian workers

Health officials are intensifying the monitoring of Dallas hospital workers who provided care to the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. after one of them was infected with the virus despite wearing protective gear.

Tests confirmed the first known case of Ebola transmitted in the nation, raising questions about assurances by health officials here that the disease will be contained and any American hospital should be able to treat it.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sunday there had been a breach of protocol that led the worker to become infected while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, but officials are not sure what occurred. Duncan, who traveled from Liberia to visit family, did not get sick until he arrived in the U.S. He died Wednesday.

The worker, who has not been identified, has not been able to point to how the breach might have occurred.

President Barack Obama asked the CDC to quickly investigate the incident, the White House said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was asked on ABC's "Good Morning America" if federal health authorities should consider requiring that Ebola patients be sent only to highly specialized "containment" hospitals.

"That is something that should be seriously considered," Fauci said.

Texas health officials have been closely monitoring nearly 50 people who had or may have had close contact with Duncan after he started showing symptoms but before he was diagnosed with the disease.

The health care worker reported a fever Friday night as part of a self-monitoring regimen required by the CDC.

Another person described as a "close contact" of the health worker has been proactively placed in isolation.

"We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. "We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread."

Frieden said officials will monitor any workers who may have been exposed while Duncan was in the hospital.

Among the things the CDC will investigate is how the workers took off protective gear, because removing it incorrectly can lead to contamination. Investigators will also look at dialysis and intubation - the insertion of a breathing tube in a patient's airway. Both procedures have the potential to spread the virus.

How to take off protective gear

The CDC has produced a poster explaining how to properly put on and take off protective gear:

Instructions For Hospital Workers When Treating Ebola Patients

On Sunday evening, crews worked to decontaminate the hospital worker's apartment in the M Streets in Dallas.

10:20 a.m.: Second Dallas Ebola patient graduated from TCU

The Presbyterian health care worker who’s infected with Ebola graduated from Texas Christian University in 2010. An email with the news was sent to students and faculty Sunday night, reports TCU360, a student publication. The worker graduated from the university’s BSN nursing program, TCU360 says.

The Dallas Morning News produced a profile of the health care worker: "The Dallas health care worker hospitalized as the first person to contract Ebola in the U.S. was praised by friends Sunday as a big-hearted, compassionate nurse devoted to caring for others."

9:30 a.m. Louisiana tries to keep Ebola waste out of state

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says he will take legal action to stop the incinerated personal belongings of a Dallas Ebola victim from being disposed of in a landfill in Calcasieu Parish.

Buddy Caldwell said in a news release late Sunday night that he plans to ask for a temporary restraining order on Monday preventing any of the wastes from entering Louisiana.

Caldwell says the health and safety of Louisiana citizens is his top priority.

Caldwell says the waste will not consist of the belongings themselves, but rather the incinerated remains of six truckloads of items that could have been contaminated by Thomas Duncan when he fell sick.

Duncan died Wednesday at a Dallas hospital.

Sunday's developments

Catch up on Sunday's Ebola developments here.

Ebola in Dallas: A Timeline

Here's a look at some of the main events over the past several weeks. Hover over the right-hand side of the timeline to advance it.